Training: Summer School in Biodiversity changes and data visualization

**** Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the summer school will be postponed to a future date (fall 2020 or spring 2021), depending on the return to normal public activities. ****

The Biodiversity Modelling Summer School 2020 will cover the theme “Biodiversity Change and Data Visualization”.

This 5-day intensive course will take place from August 23 to 28, 2020 at Orford Musique located in Parc national du Mont-Orford in Quebec, Canada. The course will take the form of a workshop during which the students, in collaboration with local organizations involved in biodiversity monitoring, will develop a web platform for visualizing biodiversity changes.

Course Overview:

Biodiversity monitoring programs, along with research projects and citizen science generate massive amounts of information that can be used to predict future impacts of human actions on biodiversity. Other fields of life sciences, such as genomics, medicine, and neuroscience, have met the ‘big data’ challenge by developing computational infrastructure, data pipelines and analytical frameworks, while ecology is comparatively lagging behind. Representation of this information to the public, stakeholders and policy makers is particularly challenging because of the high dimensionality of biodiversity changes. Unfortunately, biodiversity science also suffers from a significant communication deficit in comparison to other fields and solving this problem requires a specific approach to raising computational literacy among ecologists. 

The BIOS² training program in computational biodiversity science and services ( is therefore happy to offer its annual summer school in biodiversity modelling in August 2020 on the themes of biodiversity changes and data visualization. 

The objective of the course is to train students to develop analytical pipelines to quantify biodiversity changes and to represent them for stakeholders such as governmental agencies, conservation groups and the public. Students will learn how create and critique data visualizations to communicate efficiently beyond the academy, including infographics, maps, short talks and plain-language summaries. The course will take the form of a workshop where students will have to develop a web platform for the visualization of biodiversity changes for a specific region. They will be exposed and work in collaboration with local organizations involved in biodiversity monitoring in order to conceptualize efficient communication tools. 

Topics covered include :

  • How to develop analytical pipelines from open data to their representation
  • Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs)
  • Indicators of biodiversity changes
  • Efficient design conceptualization
  • Spatial data representation
  • Building interactive web interface with ShinyR

Prerequisites: Intermediate knowledge in scientific programming is required.

Dates: August 23 – 28 2020 

Location : Orford Musique (Orford, Québec, Canada)


  • Students can get credited for this course through Université de Sherbrooke.
  • Fee 500 $CA (Housing and meals included)
  • The number of participants is limited to 25.
  • Applicants will be eligible to apply to the BIOS² training program in computational biodiversity science and services to cover registration fees. To apply, you must indicate it in your application.
  • To register for this course, send your CV and a 1-page cover letter explaining why you want to follow this course at the latest by April 10 2020 to
  • Applicants will receive notification of decision (admission and financial support) by April 24, 2020.

More information: